10/31/2014

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No glitch with paying city's art tax online, official says

No glitch with paying city's art tax online, official says

PORTLAND, Ore. – Brenda Corrie thought the arts tax notice she got in the mail was a sophisticated scam.

“It only says you can pay online,” she said. “It doesn’t indicate that you can mail in a payment if you don’t have access to a computer, and that made me real suspicious.”

The city sent out the tax notices last week.

Voters approved the $35 tax last November to help fund music and arts education in schools. The tax is retroactive, meaning income earners in Portland have to pay by April 15. The city is encouraging people to pay online.

Corrie is among several residents who have said they've had trouble paying the tax online.

Contacted about these viewers' frustrations, Portland's revenue bureau director said Monday he hasn't fielded any complaints about the system. Thomas Lannom, the city's revenue bureau director, said 1,400 people successfully used the site over the weekend.

Lannom said paying online is a cost-saver.

"We're hoping people will pay online because that means we don't have to mail those forms out and ultimately additional teachers in the arts can be funded that way," Lannom said.

Corrie, who lives in Northeast Portland, said she had no idea the arts tax passed.

“I think there should have been notification sent out prior to this, letting people know it’s coming out and what the expectations are,” said Corrie.

The Portland Revenue Bureau expects most people to pay the tax online, because it says three out of four homes in Portland have Internet access. You can pay by credit card, electronic check or by mail. Debit cards are not accepted.

Payment forms will be mailed April 1, but if you pay online before then, the city won't have to send one.

Some people have been able to make their payment online, along with the 99-cent convenience fee. Corrie, however, could not successfully make her payment on Sunday after three tries.

“It wouldn’t take my payment,” she said. “I’m gonna call on Monday and say ‘what’s going on? You want your money. Why isn’t your website up and running so that people can pay?’”

For those who don't pay online, the city will send out a form by April 25.

This story came to us as a news tip. If you have a story for us, send us an email at newstips@katu.com.

KATU News Reporter Valerie Hurst contributed to this report.

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